'Difficult month' at Shropshire's hospitals sees A&E targets missed

Shropshire's two main hospitals have again been unable to hit A&E waiting time targets, new figures have revealed.

Princess Royal Hospital, Telford, left, and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital
Princess Royal Hospital, Telford, left, and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital

Health officials have described March as an "extremely difficult month" because of "unprecedented demand" as both Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital struggled to cope with rising numbers of emergency patients.

Figures for March show 78.7 per cent of patients were admitted, transferred or discharged from Shropshire's A&E departments within four hours of arrival – below the 95 per cent target set by the Government.

The figures also represent a decrease on the previous month, with February seeing 80 per cent admitted, transferred or discharged in four hours or less. On average February saw 87.8 per cent of patients seen within four hours in all A&E departments in England.

Health officials say they did not hit the target this month due to a number of reasons, including an increase in A&E attendances and emergency admissions.

A report due to be discussed at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust's board meeting today, also states that the number of cancelled operations has increased during March, with a total of 127 cancelled – 81 at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and 46 at Princess Royal Hospital.

Both hospitals also formally declared 'Level 4', also known as black escalation status. Black alert status is reached when a hospital cannot cope with the number of people coming into A&E because too few people are being discharged. It effectively means the hospital does not have enough bed capacity to cope.

The report states: "March proved to be an extremely difficult month for both sites but particularly PRH saw unprecedented demand – several times during the month both sites were formally declaring Level 4."

The report also reveals that the number of people declared medically fit to leave the hospital but who cannot be sent home straight away, known as 'bed blocking, remains high.

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